UK: government-backed internet filters criticised after charity for victims of sexual abuse is blocked from users

cameronBritish authorities are being criticised after it was revealed that government-backed internet filters have blocked access to the website of a charity that aims to help victims of sexual abuse.

The filters, described by some critics as ‘The Great Firewall of Cameron’, have been implemented by a number of internet providers in the country after the British government claimed that more should be done to protect children from explicit content.

The controversial filters were rolled-out by a number of companies after the government took steps to pressure businesses into providing more protection for children. The firewalls, which are part of a mandatory opt-out plan for many customers, have been criticised by internet freedom campaigners who claim that the government’s ‘blunt tool’ proposals do more harm than good.

The firewalls have also been widely criticised by everyday internet-users, many of whom claim they do not want or need them. According to one company, who are currently making the filters mandatory for all customers who do not opt-out, less than 10% of users volunteered to have filters installed.

A recently published report from the government also claimed that only 13% of the British public were happy to install the new filters.

Despite widespread unpopularity several internet providers in Britain are taking steps to install filters automatically for all customers who do not opt-out following increasing pressure from the government. According to Prime Minister David Cameron the filters are a positive step to protecting children online.

Many, however, have argued that internet providers should not be responsible for filtering content and that the responsibility should lie elsewhere. According to many critics these filters are an attempt by the government to resolve the pressure on them to encourage families to protect their children.

As well as sexual abuse charities a number of other websites have been censored under the new schemes. Among the list of supposed inappropriate sites are blogs discussing cannabis legalisation, several alcohol sellers’ sites, women’s fashion sites and a number of sites for charities that deal with domestic abuse .

One campaigner also claimed that some sites with Sussex and Essex (two counties in England) in their URLs had been blocked because they contained the word ‘sex’.

The recent criticism of the government’s approach to online censorship comes after Prime Minister Cameron proposed further action be taken to tackle extremists online following the recent events surrounding French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

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